Xavier Nwankpa is loaded with potential and thriving. He's only a sophomore

Photo: Reese Strickland/For the Register

Brad Zelenovich laughs when Xavier Nwankpa gets brought up.

With a kid as athletic as he is … with someone who can change the game so much at such a young age … laughing is really all you can do.

“He’s a different dude,” said Zelenovich, the head football coach at Southeast Polk.

The difference was apparent last Friday night. Nwankpa, a sophomore safety for the Rams, logged multiple pass break-ups, cracked tackles, made a 42-yard pick-six and broke off a 25-yard Wildcat touchdown run in Southeast Polk’s 38-0 win over Des Moines Roosevelt.

According to QuikStats, he’s up to 41.5 tackles and two interceptions — both returned for scores — this season.

Oct 25, 2019; Des Moines, IA, USA; Southeast Polk Rams Xavier Nwankpa (5) flies into the end zone for a touchdown against the Des Moines Roosevelt Riders at Drake Stadium. (Photo: Reese Strickland/For the Register)

Already checking in at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Nwankpa boasts a rare size and speed combination and projects as one of the Midwest’s more promising 2022 prospects.

Translation? He’s the type of kid coaches see and think: Wait. He’s only a sophomore?

Nebraska and Iowa State offered last July. Iowa just offered Oct. 12. Notre Dame is also showing interest, and Nwankpa told the Register he plans to visit South Bend, Indiana, for the Fighting Irish’s Nov. 16 game against Navy.

“He’s got a chance to be really special,” Zelenovich said.

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